19. Mrs. Hill
asked the Assistant Postmaster-General how many large telephone exchanges are awaiting conversion to automatic control.
20. Mrs. Hill
asked the Assistant Post master-General when he anticipates the conversion of the Didsbury Exchange, Manchester, to automatic control will take place.
§ Mr. Gammans
A new automatic exchange is to be provided but it cannot be ready for some years. Meanwhile the existing exchange is to be extended.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is very considerable delay when one uses this exchange, and that people get frustrated by the length of their wait when they dial from an outside exchange to Didsbury Exchange? As there are important hospitals attached to the exchange, is it not time that something was done to modernise and speed it up?
§ Mr. Page
Is not this delay due to the fact that manufacturers of this automatic exchange equipment are working to capacity on overseas contracts, which are very important because they are 15- to 25-year contracts? Would my hon. Friend give publicity to this fact so that patient subscribers who are waiting for automatic exchanges may realise that their patience is important to international trade?
§ Mr. Gammans
There are, of course, important overseas orders involved in these cases, but 75 per cent. of exchanges are now automatic as compared with about 50 per cent. just before the war.